A Time for Everything
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 NIV
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
If you know me at all, you know that it is sometimes hard for me to discern when it is time to speak what is on my mind. I just naturally love conversation and am prone to speak in very small group settings. Sometimes the person who speaks often (quite possibly too often) might get passed by when they have something very valuable to share because their non stop verbiage is just too much for others to absorb. I think everyone has a different saturation point when it comes to words.
Allowing the space of silence in a group builds in processing time for those who can only absorb so many words. And I suspect those who benefit that extra time are also fairly thoughtful about when they might choose to speak. Maybe even too thoughtful. So it is important to create the space in friendships. families, the workplace, and other gathering times so everyone has an opportunity to speak and to be heard.
Allowing pauses in conversation requires practice. Sometimes silence can be uncomfortable. Having a conversation is a bit like with reading a book (which is a conversation of the one sided sort): there are spaces (margins) in books that allow some visual space — allowing for a auditory space is just as important.
In a meeting, my husband is typically quiet and listens and then produces an incredibly thoughtful response or observation at the end. I have a tendency to ask clarification questions and provide feedback and thoughts throughout a meeting. I think that is because I am a verbal processor. I have to get it out in order to figure out what it is I want to say. Don can process all that stuff in his mind and then speak his thoughts very succinctly. I find it fascinating because I just don’t work that way.
Words are powerful and carefully chosen words are even more powerful. I have spent a lifetime learning that just because I think it doesn’t mean I need to share it with the world. Journaling has been an important way I have learned to process thoughts and speak them quietly, to an audience of One.
How do our words reflect our state of mind?
Have you been around someone who lashes out at every opportunity? Or around someone who speaks soothing and encouraging words? The first kind of person is hard to be around and the second type can be a balm to a weary soul. If you know someone who is very generally pretty loving but is having a moment of frustration it is good to keep in mind that they are likely having a moment. But those who are ugly, critical, caustic, impatient, and intolerant? Well, part of me has compassion for them because clearly their heart is troubled. But, honestly, the other part of me wants to run the other way. It isn’t that I never have those moments. I do. But I hope those who love and know me might allow me a small space for processing and then, when it has gone far enough, will nudge (push or pull) me in the healthier direction.
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” [Luke 6:43-45 NIV]
In this world of pain, disease, death, and suffering it is important to share words of love and light and life. God’s Word is full of good words.
The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. [John 6:63 NIV]
On the Way,